Genre: Gundams, Gundams, Gundams
Warning: This review contains words which might be construed as spoilers by some.
What the fuck is a Gundam anyway? Wait, i’ll look it up… General Unilateral Neuro-Link Dispersive Autonomic Maneuver System? That doesn’t spell gundam…it spells gundams. Well anyway, Gundams 00 is a show about Gundams’s. I should probably mention my history with the gundams, just to make it clear that I am not one of those people who can identify every gundam model by silhouette. The first thing gundam related I saw was the first episode of Gundam Seed, and it was a very confusing experience. My mind was not prepared for the majesty that is gundam related entertainment. I watched all of Seed, and it’s sequel Gundam Seed Destiny. I then attempted to watch the original show Mobile Suit Gundam but stopped watching because it was boring or something. Oddly I found myself very pleased to discover that Gundam 00 was being made and that I would soon be able to view it with my eyes.
Since 1979 there has been almost continous stream of gundam things coming out. 616 anime episodes split among over 21 properties, and more than 12 films. Apparently the whole brand is worth 5 billion yen (250 million british pounds). Thats crazy madness, and admittedly very daunting as a person trying to understand what the hell it’s all about. In that regard, it’s worth knowing that each show is quite a separate entity. For example, this show Gundam 00 does not share anything in common with any other Gundam show except that there are gundams in it. There are some shows which are connected, these are identifiable by the fact that everyone in them refers to years in the same manner (ie. Universal Century, Cosmic Era)
Yes, that’s totally a gundam.
It’s worth asking the question, Why the hell is it so popular? An answer would be “Giant Robots? I dunno”. Another slightly more accurate answer would be that it taps into the same part of the brain as Star Trek did, but for the Japanese. Gundam shows are probably a lot more political than you would expect. Usually the universe has been divided into a bunch of different countries and their conflicts. Also there’s usually a baddie who wears a mask. Japan as a country also doesn’t seem to feature prominently in any of the shows I have seen. The theme of the each series seems to be vaguely analogous to what’s going on in the international headlines currently, and they deal with touchy subjects such as racism and unexpected amputation, that sort of thing. Gundam 00 is about terrorism and the effects of a global energy crisis which they solved by building millions of solar panels in orbit roung the planet, but that ruined a lot of countries only export and it all went tits up.
In the future there are three countries, the Union (which is America, Australia and Japan), the League (China, Russia and India), and the AEU (basically Europe). Coming along to mess things up is the ridiculously named Celestial Being, a group of people with the mandate of waging a war to end wars (with gundams). Continuing the theme of having dodgy names, the four pilots of the gundams are Setsuna F Seiei, Tieria Erde, Lockon Stratos, and Allelujah Haptism. Yes, Allelujah Haptism. Actually, they code-names which makes it a little less dumb. Main character Setsuna is a little Kurdish tyke who got himself involved with local civil wars and a youngster. He sort of fits the mold of angstish teen that you might expect in a Gundam show, but oddly he gets very little screen time. There are so many characters and plots going on simultaneously that no one element of it ever gets overplayed.
Setsuna F. Seiei, seemingly pretending to be Solid Snake
The bods of Celestial being are enacting the 200 year old plan of one Aeolia Schenberg, who wanted to unite the world somehow. He also invented the mysterious Solar Furnace drives that the gundams use that makes them continuously fart out fairydust. Whenever war doth occur, Celestial Being show up in their overpowered robots and total both sides. Their plan is to do this until no more war occurs. It’s a solid plan, and I like it. Also, they obey this big computer called Veda who tells them what to do. Yes, the plan is retarded, but that’s part of the point. Everyone is like “A war to end war? That’s sort, you know, stupid!” so you can’t make fun of that if you were about to.
In most Gundam shows, the opponents of the main characters can usually put up a bit of a fight, but in this show most of their opponents respond to almost anything any of the gundams do by exploding. This makes these gundams seem more like Super Robots than Real Robots, if you get the difference. Anyway, the three countries of course don’t like being messed with very much, and start trying to build robots good enough to not explode whenever a Gundam flies over them, and are largely unsuccessful. In the later half of the show some enemies that are more of a threat emerge, and the characters seem very put out that they actually have to put some effort into their giant robot piloting, the lazy sods.
Aeolia Schenberg declaring the war on war
The cast is far to vast to list, but there are some good memorable characters. Being a gundam show, it looks really really good. Sunrise pride themselves as not stooping so low as to use CG to render robots fights. Sunrise employs humanity’s foremost experts at drawing gundams, and they are not eager to be put out of the job by computers, so they dutifully get out their rulers, compasses and sextants in order to bring us some of the best animated robots possible. This series was aired in HD which makes it look even more better than any previous gundams. There isn’t an enormous amount more detail on characters, but the background paintings and detail within scenes is truly astonishing. Music ain’t so bad either, especially the first ending song, and the second intro song which is very excellent:
Most gundam shows hover around the 50 episode mark, but this one went for the much more restrained 25 episodes and managed a much tighter narrative because of it. There is supposed to be another season coming along after Sunrise stop making Code Geese R2 which is good. Though this season did have a mostly satisfactory ending so it’s not entirely necessary. The ending was actually pleasantly bleak. I just hope you don’t get attached to any of the characters or anything. All in all if you have any interest in Gundam but are unsure where to start, this would be as good a place as any.
Arbitrary Rating: 8 – Gundams.